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News :: Vinton firefighters stop parade to honor former Chief Dave Hite
· 10:35am September 9th, 2013
It won’t be hard for the members of the Vinton Fire Department to name their favorite moment of the 2013 IFA Convention Parade.
Most of the audience members saw the firefighters jogging along the parade route, pushing or pulling the historic pumper that the fire department uses for such occasions.
But the highlight of the parade came when the firemen stopped jogging.
The parade route – by design – led past the Virginia Gay Hospital and VGH Nursing and Rehab parking lot, where former Vinton Fire Chief Dave Hite is a resident.
Dave was a member of the VFD for more than 40 years, beginning in 1961, and served as Chief from January 1980 until January 1990. His declining health forced him to retire from the department about 10 years ago.
Dave’s wife, Marcia describes what happened during the parade:
“They guys were pulling the pumper, and when they got it around the corner (where the street was level), they abandoned it. They all came over and shook Dave’s hand. And even the honorary and retired firefighters stood and saluted.”
The tribute was emotional, moving both the Hites and the firemen honoring them to tears.
“It was just blew me away,” said Marcia. “The firemen put a smile on Dave’s face.”
Marcia said Dave and Dale Garwood went to sign up as firefighters in early 1961. Dave eventually became a captain and held other offices before they asked him to serve as chief.
“Needless to say the guys just love us,” said Marcia. “They come to visit him every few months, and they are there to help if we need anything.”
Retired Vinton firefighter Tom Boeckmann was among those standing to salute Dave that evening. He shared the following poem:
He'll always be THE CHIEF, a name he's earned with pride,
even when his term is over, and he must step aside.
His rise through the ranks to this pinnacle of success
took years of special training...a dedication few possess.
Many are remembered who've worked with him along the way,
a joy to all--by sharing this special day.
His lungs have tasted toxic fumes, his skin has felt the flame,
aches and bruises went hand-in-hand, like thunder in the rain.
As a soldier of good Florian, our Patron Saint of old,
he's fought his share of battles, too numerous to unfold.
Destiny makes us brothers, he'll never be alone,
what he sent into lives of others, has come back into his own.
From those who've worked beside him, its said with found belief,
May God be with him always...and he'll always be THE CHIEF.
In addition to the tribute to Dave, the firemen honored two other long-time firefighters. Paul Schellhase, who recently received recognition for 50 years of service to the Garrison Fire Department, was one of the Grand Marshals. The other was Bob LaGrange, who served for many years on the Vinton Fire Department. Paul and Bob rode along the route at the front of the parade.
Better Tomorrows Board welcomes three new members
Veterans Night at Benton County Speedway Sept. 15; free admission for vets